Splendor in SicilyOur lovely journey started out in the southeastern part of the isle in the gastronomic city of Modica, Italy.  The hotel, Palazzo Failla, was very traditional, with old world grandeur and a beautiful view where I stood on the balcony high above the city and counted the over 150 steps to get to the first food stop.

First stop was Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, where we had an hour-and-a-half-long chocolate demonstration.  We were dressed in scrubs to go into their kitchen.  It was like an episode of Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory.  We tasted every flavor and grade of chocolate you can imagine – white pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, chili pepper, ranging from 70% to 95% cocoa.  The owners, the Ruta family, are sixth generation chocolate makers originally from Spain.

Then we went to see Giorgio at Casa de Formaggio, where we sampled local cheeses.  During our visit, a little boy who had finished school ran in insisting on specific cheeses to be handed over immediately, as though it was candy!

Dinner was at La Gazza Larda, Michelin starred Chef Accursio Craparo.  It was the most creative 5-course dinner I’ve ever eaten in my life.  We started out with a martini glass filled with a savory bread puree topped by fresh goat cheese and fresh tomato salsa and basil.  The portions just got more visual as time went on.  His use of local, fresh ingredients and old world grains was very inventive, many of which have long been neglected.  We finished with cannoli with ricotta cheese, blackberry sorbet, and topped with chocolate and puffed wheat, a/k/a sugar smacks, don’t laugh….it was great!

One of the most memorable stops we made was at the Villa delle Sciave where The Godfather was filmed.  The owner, Baron Franco Platania, a Borghese descendent, made us coffee and showed us the villa, built in the 1700’s.

These are just a few of the stops that I’m planning for our Sicily trip in spring, 2011.

With so many more wonderful experiences, I’ll be writing more about my trip in upcoming blogs.

Chef Jacquie